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Fortune Favors the Bold

Coming off a 5.0 fWAR season, Matt Carpenter is a 1B that was able to keep his team from sinking into the abyss this year. If the Cardinals were to make the playoffs, Carpenter would have had a plausible case for MVP. Carpenter will begin next season as a 33-year old that has averaged 3.8 fWAR over the past three seasons with an option year following the end of the 2019 season. For a stretch of the season there was no hitter in baseball better than Carpenter. This creates the perfect opportunity to sell high on an asset that can garner a return that can potentially transform a franchise.

The Cardinals are now in the midst of a three year playoff drought. Why would any sane general manager trade away their best player? Well, President of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak, is not Billy Beane with a general history of making deals on a consistent basis that have a questionable reasoning (*cough* Josh Donaldson). Carpenter is positioned to gather some MVP votes this year -- similar to how Donaldson was traded following an eighth place MVP finish. The deal in hindsight can seem overwhelmingly like a win for the Blue Jays -- who put up two seasons of 8.7 fWAR and 7.8 fWAR following his trade. However, Matt Carpenter is also no Josh Donaldson.

There is a particular team of interest that I would target waving Matt Carpenter in front of -- the very team that finished the Cardinals off down the stretch and knocked out the neighboring blue bears. Yes, that team is the Colorado Rockies. What interest would the Rockies have in acquiring Matt Carpenter? Well, his name is Ian Desmond. Desmond has been an utter disappointment since his signing with the Rockies for 5 years and $70MM while providing a cumulative -1.5 fWAR over the past two seasons (still feel bad about Dexter Fowler's performance?). With the likely departure of DJ LeMahieu, the Rockies are positioned to move Ryan McMahon to 2B to fill the void. If unable to re-sign LeMahieu, the Rockies can be left with a void at 1B during Nolan Arenado's walk year.

Target becomes Nolan Arenado, right? I can see the BFIB yearns for a player the caliber of Arenado, but the face of the Rockies for the past several years is not whom I would target. The target would be one of the top positional talents in baseball, young stud shortstop Brendan Rodgers -- because fortune favors the bold. Having discussed this trade with a fellow colleague, who is a Rockies fan, the Cardinals would surely have to give up more to pry the top prospect away from the Rockies. The Rockies have an ideal situation on there hands to risk going all in for the 2019 season. Arenado is in his walk year, the Rockies starting pitching was the best it has been in years, and the weaknesses the Rockies possess can be filled with the right trade partner.

The Rockies void at 1B previously mentioned can be filled with Matt Carpenter. Who else comes in this trade to make this offer too good for the Rockies to refuse? First, I would like to assert that the Rockies catcher, Chris Iannetta, is not going to blow anyone away with his peformance (.4 fWAR 2018) and $4MM final year (plus an option year) in 2019. The Rockies recent investments display a clear intent to compete. My thought is that Carson Kelly can be considered expendable with the extension offered to Molina as well as Andrew Knizner's bursting into the spotlight. Do you see where I'm going with this? Carpenter projects for roughly 6 fWAR over the remainder of his contract with an aging curve. Carson Kelly is a hitter valued in the back end of most prospect rankings. Using the Point of Pittsburgh's 2018 surplus value, I'll project Kelly in the middle of the two values for hitters between #51-75 and #76-100. The Cardinals are still short on value and the Rockies have a bullpen weakness.

Trade proposal:

Colorado Rockies receive:

Matt Carpenter, age 32, two years $33MM remaining contract. Surplus value: $20MM

Carson Kelly, age 24, FA 2024, $22MM value

John Gant, age 26, FA 2023, $10MM value (1.2 fWAR 2018 value)

St. Louis Cardinals receive:

Brendan Rodgers, age 22, #11 Fangraphs prospect rank, $65.6MM Point of Pittsburgh's value

Chris Iannetta, age 35, $4MM contract (option 2020 for $4.5MM)

Carson Kelly give the Rockies a young catcher with the ability to lead an already outstanding starting pitching core. John Gant gives the Rockies a relief option as well as a starting option should any of their pitchers get injured. Matt Carpenter brings the best chance to capitalize on still having Arenado before he possibly walks for a lucrative contract. If the Rockies convince Arenado in his final year that they are doing their best to win with him, perhaps he returns to try and stay for his career with one team in an environment where he has thrived. The supposed message with re-signing Blackmon was that the Rockies want to win with Arenado.

What do the Cardinals get from acquiring a shortstop that isn't even a guaranteed thing? Well, the best opportunity to acquire a franchise player often comes in making a bold trade if you don't draft and develop one. Chris Iannetta allows another year or two with a veteran presence beyond Yadier Molina; ultimately, allowing Andrew Knizner more time for development. With many people wondering why trade for Rodgers when DeJong has been a successful shortstop? DeJong and Rodgers (doesn't matter who plays SS or 3B) gives the Cardinals an exciting and young left side of the infield that has the chance to be one of the best tandems in baseball. The Cardinals have a void at 1B now so this trade makes no sense! I beg to differ, the 1B position is opportunistically available to Marcel Ozuna (injured shoulder all year if you remember) or the hulking Tyler O'Neill -- assuming the Cardinals do what many expect by moving Jose Martinez to an AL team so he can play his natural position of DH). The Cardinals could attempt a one year contract with Matt Adams or move Jedd Gyorko across the diamond. With the unlikelihood of Fowler being moved this offseason I certainly look to explore many more ways for the Cardinals to shift direction -- beyond the widespread hopefulness of signing Bryce Harper. Thanks for reading.